After a near-perfect start to her 2015 season, Maria Sharapova will look to follow up with a strong showing over her fortnight stay in Melbourne. Undefeated so far this year, the Russian superstar will begin her campaign against Petra Martic, whom she has previously faced on the WTA tour. Sharapova leads the head to head series 1-0 and will likely maintain that unbeaten record against the Croatian.
Sharapova was impressive in 2014; she returned from a shoulder surgery and managed to win her fifth Grand Slam title. Unrelenting as usual, she maintained that momentum at the start of 2015 with a title win in her first tournament of the season. Sharapova defeated Ana Ivanovic, arguably her biggest rival of the last year, in a grueling three-set encounter that lasted a total of 2 hours and 38 minutes. After splitting their past four matches – all their encounters of 2014 – they kept up the pace this season.
It marked Sharapova’s 34th title on the tour – a phenomenal feat. This was also her first title Down Under since she won the Australian Open in 2008 – a match where she also defeated Ivanovic to lift the title.
The Russian will begin her run in Melbourne against Petra Martic, who reached the second round in Auckland – lost to Claire Feuerstein – and then arrived at the Aussie Open and worked her way through the qualifying rounds, dropping just one set in the process.
This marks the second time that Sharapova and Martic will meet on the professional tour. Their first meet took place almost four years ago at the Miami Masters, which Sharapova won with relative ease. Although several years separate their meetings, the results should not vary too much, as Sharapova looks to be in close to peak form and motivated to regain the No. 1 ranking.
Prediction: Maria Sharapova in Straight Sets